Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Robotic Ferret Will Detect Hidden Drugs And Weapons

Date:
June 16, 2009
Source:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Summary:
A new type of robot being developed will make it easier to detect drugs, weapons, explosives and illegal immigrants concealed in cargo containers.

Researchers have developed a 'cargo-screening ferret' for use at seaports and airports to detect drugs, weapons, explosives and illegal immigrants.
Credit: Image courtesy of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

A new type of robot being developed will make it easier to detect drugs, weapons, explosives and illegal immigrants concealed in cargo containers.

Dubbed the 'cargo-screening ferret' and designed for use at seaports and airports, the device is being worked on at the University of Sheffield with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The ferret will be the world's first cargo-screening device able to pinpoint all kinds of illicit substances and the first designed to operate inside standard freight containers.

It will be equipped with a suite of sensors that are more comprehensive and more sensitive than any currently employed in conventional cargo scanners.

Recent advances in both laser and fibre optic technology now make it possible to detect tiny particles of different substances. The EPSRC-funded project team is developing sensors which incorporate these technologies and that are small enough to be carried on the 30cm-long robot, in order to detect the specific 'fingerprint' of illegal substances at much lower concentrations than is now possible.

When placed inside a steel freight container, the ferret will attach itself magnetically to the top, then automatically move around and seek out contraband, sending a steady stream of information back to its controller.

Current cargo-screening methods rely on a variety of separate methods, such as the use of sniffer dogs and external scanners for detecting explosives and drugs and carbon dioxide probes and heartbeat monitors to detect a human presence.

Cargo scanners currently in use at seaports and airports only generate information on the shape and density of objects or substances. The ferret, however, will be able to provide information on what they actually consist of as well.

"It's essential we develop something which is simple to operate and which Border Agents can have total confidence in," says Dr Tony Dodd, who is leading the project. "The ferret will be able to drop small probes down through the cargo and so pinpoint exactly where contraband is concealed."

Working prototypes of the cargo-screening ferret could be ready for testing within two years, with potential deployment within around five years.

The 3-year project 'Cargo Screening Ferret' began in October 2008 and is receiving total EPSRC funding of nearly 732,000.

The project also involves the University of Glasgow, Loughborough University, City University London and defence and security specialists Qinetiq.

The idea for the project emerged from an event organised by EPSRC, the Home Office Scientific Development Branch and the UK Borders Agency.

The ferret will offer major advantages in combating human trafficking. Currently, it is very difficult to detect people hidden in freight containers (e.g. the use of X-rays is prohibited due to the harm the radiation could do to anyone concealed there). Sensors on board the ferret will be able to detect tiny traces of carbon dioxide which indicate the presence of humans concealed in the containers.

Another key benefit is that the ferret will reduce the need for customs and security officials to enter or unpack freight containers, which is time-consuming and may expose officers to danger or possible contamination by harmful substances.

By combining two different types of sensor (laser and fibre optic-based), the ferret will lead to confidence in detection being considerably improved.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. "Robotic Ferret Will Detect Hidden Drugs And Weapons." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090612115531.htm>.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. (2009, June 16). Robotic Ferret Will Detect Hidden Drugs And Weapons. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090612115531.htm
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. "Robotic Ferret Will Detect Hidden Drugs And Weapons." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090612115531.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins